By Rick Musto
As educators and school administrators across the country struggle to find a balance between remote and in-person instruction, a hybrid learning model may offer the best and safest long-term solution. So, how will your classroom adapt to this new model? Of course, technology will play an important role and you will need to assess your existing classroom technology and infrastructure.
This article will focus on how a typical classroom can support a synchronous hybrid learning model. The hybrid solution can take on many forms, but this model blends in-classroom instruction with simultaneous synchronous remote learning. Remote learning typically comes in two broad categories:
Learning happens in real time with teacher and student in a virtual setting
learning happens independently, without real time interaction or instruction between student and teacher
For a teacher to effectively deliver synchronous learning to students, especially as part of an in-classroom learning curriculum, the classroom environment will ultimately need to shift and expand beyond the current digital in-classroom setting. The infrastructure for this new integrated classroom model must address device management, internet access deficiencies, audio/ visual requirements and something to tie it all together. For older campuses this also may include upgrades to fiber optic infrastructure, structured cabling and campus data network equipment.
A typical integrated classroom in this new setting should have the following equipment.
- Two (2) large screen monitors, one for the instructor and the primary presentation/instruction, the other for the students to see and interact with the distance learners participating remotely.
- Two (2) camera’s, one providing a wide shot of the room, the other to follow whoever is speaking. This allows the remote students to see who is speaking, resulting in a richer
- Microphones to pick up audio throughout the room.
- An A/V controller, amplifier, audio/video converter and streaming processor to tie it all together.
The infrastructure for this new integrated classroom model must address device management, internet access deficiencies, audio/ visual requirements and something to tie it all together
The other key element is the adoption of a conferencing platform that best serves your needs. Popular platforms include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting and Google Meet. In terms of functionality, there is often not much difference between the different platforms. But there are several elements to consider.
- Does the platform easily accommodate your expected classroom size?
- Is the navigation simple and easily understood by your
- Does the platform require a special download or app?
- Is it easily accessible by all your students?
In any combination of remote, traditional, or hybrid learning the physical classroom will play a key role in keeping students connected with the teacher and grounded in the classroom environment.
Helpful Audio Visual Resources
There are many companies that specialize in these types of AV system controllers, including Extron, Lifesize Video Conferencing and Stem Audio. They can integrate this experience into the classroom, making it seamless and easy to use. We have a long-standing working relationship with Extron, which offers integrated classroom, AV signal distribution, control, and audio equipment for districts around the country. For more information, check out these resources:
Stem Audio: www.stemaudio.com/setup-a-clas...
The specific Extron components that can tie all your classroom hardware together, as referenced above are:
- A/V Controller (MLC Plus 200) - Start stop and pause recording
- Amplifier (MVC 121 Plus) - Amplifies wireless mics
- Scaling Bridge (Media port 200) - Takes audio and video, converts to USB video stream from laptop/CPU – “Zoom”, “Teams”, etc.
- Streaming Processor (SMP 300) - Streams multiple audio and video simultaneously – Integrates with learning management systems. Connects to local monitors, Stream live, Capture/record, Voice amplification